Boston at Tampa Bay

Venue: Tropicana Field

The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox appear to be much different clubs than they were after Boston's sweep of their three-game series last month.

The Rays aim for their sixth straight victory Tuesday night when they host the reeling Red Sox.

Boston's sweep from April 13-15 saw the Red Sox improve to 8-4 while the Rays fell to 4-8. Tampa Bay (19-18) is 15-10 since with Sunday's 4-2 win over the Padres putting them over .500 for the first time since April 6.

A big part of the Rays' early struggles involved a fragile bullpen, which blew six of its first 10 save opportunities and had an AL-worst 5.19 ERA through last Tuesday. But the relievers have posted a 1.15 ERA with 18 strikeouts over 15 2-3 innings during the current winning streak, including three shutout innings against San Diego on Sunday.

Their 2.88 ERA last year led the AL.

"You can never lose that confidence in your bullpen," utilityman Sean Rodriguez said. "They've earned that respect from us."

The offensive production has also been strong of late, with the Rays averaging 6.4 runs in their last 14 games. They've done a good job behind Tuesday's starter Matt Moore (6-0, 2.14 ERA), providing him with 7.07 runs of support per nine innings - among the majors' best marks.

Moore hasn't needed nearly that much, though his command continues to elude him. He's walking 4.93 batters per nine innings and issued four walks while allowing two runs and six hits over five innings in a 10-4 win over Toronto on Wednesday.

"I was fighting a lot of different things tonight, mostly my control," said Moore, who was 0-2 with a 6.57 ERA in two starts against Boston last season, allowing four homers.

The Red Sox (22-16) have lost 8 of 10 after a 12-4 loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday, further distancing themselves from a 20-8 start. David Ortiz's early success has also slowed, and he was given a day off in the finale against Toronto while in the midst of a 1-for-20 slide.

Ortiz, who is 4 for 7 off Moore, hit .414 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in his first 15 games.

"I think we've got a number of guys dealing with frustration right now. There's no question about it," manager John Farrell said. "The key for us is maintaining our level of preparation and our work routine. Those are the two things that we can control."

Boston will start John Lackey (1-3, 2.82), who is coming off his own frustrating outing. He gave up one run through the first five innings against Minnesota on Thursday, then gave way to four unearned runs in the sixth after sailing a throw to second base into center field.

Lackey is 12-6 versus the Rays but 3-5 with a 7.27 ERA over the last eight meetings. Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar are a combined 13 for 31 off of Lackey while Luke Scott is 6 for 16 with three doubles and two homers.

Outfielder Desmond Jennings was absent from the Rays' lineup for the third game in a row Sunday due to a mild groin strain, but manager Joe Maddon said he's likely to return Tuesday.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Probable Starters

John Lackey, RHP
2013 stats
22.1 Innings Pitched 42.0
1-3 Wins-Losses 6-0
2.82 Earned Run Average 2.14
7 Walks 23
24 Strikeouts 43
89 Pitches Per Start 105
Career vs. opponent
123.1 Innings Pitched 15.1
12-6 Wins-Losses 0-2
4.09 Earned Run Average 5.87

Matt Moore, LHP
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Boston5th AL East7191.438255-5 L 1
Tampa Bay4th AL East7785.475193-7 L 1
vs Matt Moore
vs John Lackey

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Game Odds
Boston 140 Tampa Bay -150
R. DempsterNeck
B. HoltConcussion
M. NapoliBack, toe, finger
D. PedroiaWrist
S. VictorinoBack
Tampa Bay
T. BeckhamKnee
Y. EscobarKnee
D. JenningsKnee
M. MooreElbow
J. PeraltaIllness
J. SandsWrist
Series Game Log
Apr 6TB 3:10 PM EDT  
Apr 7TB 7:10 PM EDT  
Apr 8TB 7:10 PM EDT  
May 1BAL 7:05 PM EDT  
May 2BAL 7:05 PM EDT  
May 3BAL 1:35 PM EDT  
May 29BAL 7:05 PM EDT  
May 30BAL   
May 31BAL 1:35 PM EDT  
Jul 24TB 7:10 PM EDT  
Jul 25TB   
Jul 26TB 1:10 PM EDT  
Aug 31BAL 7:05 PM EDT  
Sep 1BAL 7:05 PM EDT  
Sep 2BAL 7:05 PM EDT  
Sep 17TB 7:10 PM EDT  
Sep 18TB   
Sep 19TB   
Sep 20TB 1:10 PM EDT